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Full text of "Vietnam, the second year : 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate), a pictorial history"

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To The Trooper: 
Who has fought 
Who has fallen 
Who continues to fight 
This book is dedicated 




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VIETNAM 

THE SECOND YEAR 

173D AIRBORNE BRIGADE 

(SEPARATE) 
A PICTORIAL HISTORY 

Published by 

The Brigade Information Office 

Lt. Jeffrey S. McKay editor 

Sp4 Donald C. Hall assistant editor 




TROOPERS OF THE 173d 
AIRBORNE BRIGADE: 

Your accomplishments in the Vietnam con- 
flict cannot be told in a book many times the 
size of this one. Your acts of heroism and 
selfless service to others are too numerous 
to recount in a single pictorial memento. 
There can be no doubt that you have earned 
for yourselves as individuals, and for the 
Brigade as a unit, the title " Professionals." 
In my view there can be no higher accolade ! 

Commanding the 173d Airborne Brigade 
was the highpoint of my military career as well 
as being my most satisfying assignment. You 
made it such by your devotion to duty and 
to each other, by your demonstrated military 
skills, by your aggressive and tenacious pur- 
suit of the enemy, and by your compassion 
for those who needed it. The US Army has 
never fielded a more dedicated or profes- 
sionally capable unit! 

My admiration and my best wishes for 
your continued success and safety go with 
you in future campaigns against the 
Viet Cong. 

Major General Paul F. Smith 

Brigadier General Paul F. Smith, a master parachutist with two combat jumps, 
assumed command of the 173d Airborne Brigade (Sep) from Brigadier General Ellis 
W. Williamson on 21 February 1966. Prior to taking command of the 173d, General 
Smith served as Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff of U.S. Army Task 
Force Alpha, later designated as U.S. Army Field Force, Vietnam. 

An enlisted reservist for seven years, General Smith was commissioned a second 
lieutenant and called to active duty in April 1942. Participating in the Normandy, 
Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns with the 507th Parachute 
Infantry Regiment, he rose from company commander to battalion commander and 
made combat jumps at Normandy and Wesel and was awarded a Silver Star, three Bronze 
Stars, the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Distinguished Unit Citation. 

Before coming to Vietnam in July 1965, he served concurrently as Chief, Army 
Section, MAAG, Republic of China and Commanding General, U.S. Army Force, 
Taiwan, the U.S. component of the Taiwan Defense Command. 

General Smith was born 15 November 1915 at Taunton, Mass., and is married to 
the former Margaret McClintock of Richmond, Va. They have two daughters, Sonja 
and Sandra. 

General Smith has since been promoted to Major General. 





SKY SOLDIERS: 

During the past year you have continued 
to distinguish yourselves and the Brigade. 
Because of the timing of our big personnel 
turnover, this book represents for most of 
you — your year — the year in which you 
brought new honor and fame to the Brigade, 
the year in which your deeds were in the 
headlines around the world, the year you 
climaxed with the first combat parachute 
assault of the war in Vietnam. 

To those of you who have gone home or 
are about to leave, I offer my thanks and 
congratulations on the magnificent job you 
have done. I wish you continued success 
and good fortune. Wherever you are, you 
will still be a Sky Soldier which means 
the best. 

For those of you who have recently joined 
the Brigade, there is a great challenge. It is 
now your turn to write your page in history. 
It is up to you to keep the Sky Soldiers on 
top. I know you will not fail. I wish you the 
best of luck and good hunting. 

AIRBORNE— ALL THE WAY! 
Brigadier General John R. Deane Jr. 

Brigadier General John R. Deane, Jr., took command of the 173d on 28 December 
1966. General Deane served as Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff, I Field 
Force Vietnam, from 5 February 1966, till he assumed the duties of Assistant Division 
Commander, 1st Infantry Division on 27 July 1966. 

General Deane enlisted in the Army on 1 July 1937, and subsequently won an appoint- 
ment to the United States Military Academy. He graduated as a second lieutenant of 
infantry in 1942. During World War II, General Deane served with the 104th Infantry 
Division, rising in rank from second lieutenant to lieutenant colonel. While serving 
in the European Theater of Operations, General Deane was awarded the Silver Star for 
gallantry in action, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman's 
Badge. 

General Deane is known throughout the 173d by his radio code name "Uncle Jack." 
Included among the decorations he has been awarded in Vietnam is the Distinguished 
Service Cross, our nation's second highest award for valor. 

General Deane was born in San Francisco on 8 June 1919, the son of Major General 
John Russell Deane and Mrs. Margaret Wood Deane. General Deane and his wife, the 
former Elizabeth Heard, have five children: John Russell III, Nancy Heard, Margaret 
Alicia, Chxistopher Richard, and Elizabeth Heard. 





a 





CONTENTS 

I ORGANIZATION 
II COMBAT OPERATIONS 

III COMBAT: THE WAR 

IV CIVIC ACTION: 

THE OTHER WAR 

V WELCOME HOME 

SKY SOLDIER 

VI THE ENEMY 
VII THE SKY SOLDIER 



ORGANIZA TION 




ORGANIZATION 

The 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) 
was organized 25 June 1963 from the 2d 
Airborne Battle Group, 503d Infantry. The 
brigade thus inherited the proud tradition 
of the 503d Parachute Infantry that jumped 
into combat on Corregidor in 1944. 

Under the command of Brigadier General 
Ellis W. Williamson, the 173d trained hard 
on its home island, Okinawa, and throughout 
the Asian Theatre. Extensive airborne, guer- 
rilla, and jungle warfare training in Taiwan, 
Korea, and Thailand brought the unit to a 
high pitch of readiness. It was from the 
many parachute exercises on Taiwan that 
the 173d paratroopers became known as 
the "Sky Soldiers." 

As the first separate brigade in the United 
States Army, the 173d had to prove the 
validity of a new concept. Less than two 
years after its organization, the brigade was 
called upon to prove its mettle in combat. 

On 5 May 1965, lead elements of the 
brigade with supporting equipment, am- 
munition, and supplies, departed Okinawa 
by aircraft. The remainder of the brigade 
deployed by ship two days later. 

Since that time, the Sky Soldiers have 
established an unparalleled record of firsts 
in the Vietnam War. The 173d was the first 
Army ground combat unit to arrive in Viet- 
nam, the first to enter the Iron Triangle, and 
War Zones "C" and "D". The Sky Soldiers 
spearheaded the combat effort in the Delta 
and the highlands, and conducted the first 
joint American- Vietnamese operation. 

It came as no surprise then, that the 173d 
was chosen to make the first combat para- 
chute assault since the Korean Conflict. 

Today, the 173d continues to carry the 
fight to the Viet Cong. It has earned the 
proud heritage it bears— it has earned the 
right to remain a separate brigade. 



ORGANIZATION 173D AIRBORNE BRIGADE (SEPARATE) 



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INFANTRY 

The infantry battalion is the primary 
fighting force of any combat unit. It is the 
infantry battalion that searches out and des- 
troys the enemy. All other units support the 
infantry, for, as the infantry goes, so goes 
the battle. 

The 173d has three infantry battalions: 
the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Battalions of the 503d 
Infantry (1,2, and 4/503d). Each 750 man 
battalion, with supporting artillery and armor, 
can operate for an extended period of time 
as a self-sustaining unit. 

On 3 November 1966, General Westmore- 
land presented the nation's highest unit 
award for heroism — the Distinguished Unit 
Citation — to the men of the 1st Battalion. 
The unit earned the citation for the Battle 
of Bien Hoa on 8 November 1965. 403 Viet 
Cong fell at the hands of the 1st battalion 
that day. 

The 2nd Battalion was chosen to conduct 
the first parachute assault of the Vietnam 
war. On 22 February 1967, paratroopers of 
the "We Try Harder" battalion jumped into 
combat to initiate Operation JUNCTION 
CITY. 

The 4th Battalion arrived in Vietnam 25 
June 1966 and immediately joined the 173d 
Airborne Brigade. Under the command of 
Lieutenant Colonel Michael D. "Iron Mike" 
Healy, the men of the 4th Battalion came to 
join the fight. Since that time, the "Gero- 
nimo" paratroopers have carved out a dis- 
tinguished combat record. 

The airborne infantryman wears two sym- 
bols of his accomplishments: the parachutist's 
wings and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. 
He is an elite and proud soldier. 





■<M.»: 



ARTILLERY 

The 3d Battalion, 319th Artillery, (3/3 19th), 
composed of 3 firing batteries and a head- 
quarters and service battery, provides the 
brigade's heavy fire support. Each firing 
battery delivers direct fire support to one of 
the infantry battalions. 

The battalion has 18- 105mm howitzers 
which fire a thirty-five pound projectile at 
ranges up to 11,000 meters. The mission of 
the artillery is to deliver swift, accurate, 
and continuous fire support to the maneuver 
elements. 






CAVALRY 

Troop "E" of the 17th Cavalry (E 17th) is 
a unique outfit. It provides both aerial and 
ground reconnaissance for the brigade. The 
Cav's Aero-Rifle Platoon moves by jeep to 
patrol and recon roads — it moves by heli- 
copter to search and clear an area. Under 
the surveillance of an airborne commander, 
the Aero-Rifle Platoon employs small unit 
tactics to defeat the Vict Cong in his back- 
yard. 

The Cav's Long Range Reconnaissance 
Platoon (LRRP) accepts only volunteers 
with previous combat experience. Dressed 
in soft caps and camouflaged "tiger suits," 
the LRRP infiltrates squad size teams into 
enemy-dominated areas and gathers intel- 
ligence. It is to the LRRP's credit that they 
have produced the honor graduate of every 
MACV Recondo school to date . 





ENGINEERS 

The 173d Engineer Company builds, de- 
stroys, and fights. The Engineers build 
bridges, destroy enemy base camps, and 
fight as infantry. They accomplish a wide 
variety of Engineer tasks: from providing 
water points, to surveying, exploring, and 
demolishing V.C. tunnels. 

Engineers are frequently attached to an 
infantry battalion during an operation. The 
engineer moves with the infantryman — he 
carries an M-16 rifle and a satchel of ex- 
plosives. 

When a large tunnel complex is discover- 
ed, the 173d Engineer "tunnel rats" are 
called in to finish the job. 













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ARMOR 

"D" Company of the 16th Armor (D/16th) 
gives the brigade the firepower and shock 
effect of armor. D/16th's versatile Armored 
Personnel Carriers (APC's) provide rapid 
ground mobility for the commander, and 
armored protection for road movement. The 
APC's also carry troops into battle, and 
establish security for brigade positions. 

Armored mobility brings a heavy punch 
into the Viet Cong's backyard. The APC 
can move in any type of terrain — from jungle 
to rice paddy. 




SUPPORT 

The 173d Support Battalion performs a 
great variety of combat support functions. 
Company "B" (Medical) operates the Brigade 
Clearing Station, and provides life saving 
teams of doctors and aidmen. Company "C" 
(Supply and Transport) is responsible for 
the storage and movement of brigade sup- 
plies. Its aerial equipment support platoon 
furnishes parachute support. Company "D" 
(Maintenance) accomplishes third echelon 
maintenance of all brigade equipment. Sup- 
port Battalion is also responsible for com- 
manding the brigade rear area elements. 








_:--..--: 



HEADQUARTERS AND 
ADMINISTRATION 

Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters 
Company, and Company "A" (Administra- 
tion), are composed of many varied sections. 
Headquarters Company is responsible for 
the many attachments to the brigade: 404th 
Radio Research Unit, 39th Infantry Platoon 
Scout Dog, 51st Chemical Detachment, 172d 
Military Intelligence Detachment and others. 
It is also responsible for establishing and 
securing the Brigade Forward Command 
Post. 

Administration Company also handles a 
variety of tasks. The Adjutant General and 
Finance Sections, as well as the 45th Army 
Postal Unit, fall under Company A's control. 






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SILVER CITY 

9-22 March 1966 

The 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate), 
including elements of the 1st Battalion, Royal 
Australian Regiment, conducted a heliborne 
assault near the Song Be River in War Zone 
"D" to initiate Operation SILVER CITY. 
The first few days of the operation consisted 
of thorough screening of the area, leading 
to the discovery of vast quantities of food, 
munitions, bunkers, tunnel systems, docu- 
ments, and several large VC base camps. 

The seventh day of Operation SILVER 
CITY will long be remembered by the 
troopers of the 173d, for on this day the 
2 503d Infantry Task Force was attacked 
from all directions by the 501st VC Battalion. 
The troopers held their perimeter while 
inflicting heavy losses on the guerrillas. 
Resupply of needed ammunition was effected 
during the battle by helicopter at no small 
risk to equipment and crews. Numerous tac- 
tical air strikes were initiated with great 
effectiveness. The VC had to resort to chain- 
ing their machine gunners to the tripods of 
their weapons, but even these measures 
could not stop the crack troopers of the 173d. 

The 1st Battalion, 503d Infantry was 
directed to reinforce the 2d Battalion during 
the battle. The VC element was nearly an- 
nihilated by this time and chose to break 
contact rather than tackle two battalions of 
Sky Soldiers. Four hours after initial con- 
tact, all VC were routed or destroyed. 

The after-action mop-up patrols counted 
a total of 302 VC bodies with only seven US 
losses, the highest kill ratio to date. Through- 
out the rest of the operation it was indicated 
that an estimated 150 additional VC dead 
had been dragged away. 




DENVER 

10-25 April 1966 

The next task was to check the steady 
infiltration of NVA and VC into War Zone 
"D". With this objective in mind, the 173d 
conceived Operation DENVER, a search and 
destroy mission to be conducted in the vicin- 
ity of Song Be Sector in the northern half 
of Phouc Long Province. 

The Brigade Task Force began deployment 
on 10 April, and upon arrival in the area of 
operation, eagle flights and "show of force" 
patrols were dispatched to suspected loca- 
tions of Viet Cong installations. These patrols 
continued throughout the operation, dis- 
covering several rice caches (yielding 34.4 
tons) and a total of 2,167 documents. 

There were no major actions during Oper- 
ation DENVER as the VC elements encoun- 
tered were generally of squad size or smaller. 



DEXTER 



4-6 May 1966 

In early May, the brigade initiated Oper- 
ation DEXTER, a three day search and 
destroy mission in the northwest portion of 
Bien Hoa Province. Reconnaissance and 
intelligence reported that the area west of 
the Dong Nai River was a main VC infil- 
tration route to War Zone "D". The mission 
of the 173d was to find the enemy, check 
his entry into "D" zone and destroy or 
evacuate his provisions. During the three day 
operation, the Sky Soldiers and allied 
Australian units moved through the area of 
operation meeting little resistance from the 
enemy. 

Operations such as DENVER and 
DEXTER plainly illustrated that the Viet 
Cong were losing their long hold on War 
Zone "D". 





HARDIHOOD 

16 May - 8 June 1966 

Late in May, the brigade deployed 
to Phouc Tuy Province on Operation 
HARDIHOOD. 

The first day (D-Day) of Operation 
HARDIHOOD consisted of deployment of 
the Brigade Task Force to the Vung Tau 
area. Patrols were immediately dispatched 
on reconnaissance and ambush missions. 
During the next two days, the Sky Soldiers 
met with stiff opposition. On 19 May the 
1 503d Infantry became engaged with an 
estimated fifty VC. The firefight that ensued 
resulted in twenty VC dead with minimal 
friendly casualties. 

On 20 May, the 1 /503d Infantry, in con- 
junction with the 3d Battalion, 43d 
ARVN, was occupying blocking positions to 
the north of Long Phouc when Alpha 
Company made contact with three to five 
Viet Cong. Pursuit of the VC led the air- 
borne company to extensive and well- 
fortified enemy positions. Shortly thereafter, 
Charlie Company linked up with Alpha in 
an attempt to cut off the VC positions. 
At the first light of day, the 1st Battalion 
launched an all out assault on the VC forti- 
fications. The enemy broke contact and fled 
after a thirty-minute engagement. The Sky 
Soldiers continued the attack 'on all sides 
of the enemy positions, searching and des- 
troying bunker and tunnel complexes in the 
area. 

Throughout Operation HARDIHOOD the 
brigade continued its thorough sweep of the 
Long Phouc area, resulting in the discovery 
of intricate tunnel and bunker complexes. 
By 8 June, when the operation terminated, 
48 VC were known dead, with an additional 
30 estimated killed in action. Over one 
hundred enemy suspects were captured. 




HOLLANDIA 

9-17 June J966 

The brigade deployed to the Long Hai 
Peninsula, east of Vung Tau, to initiate Op- 
eration HOLLANDIA. It was believed that 
two VC regiments (274th and 275th) and their 
controlling headquarters (5th Division) were 
located north of the operational area within 
Phouc Tuy Province. The Task Force of 
the 173d was therefore directed to probe the 
area to deny Viet Cong entry so that a pro- 
posed construction site might be secured. 

Throughout the operation, the "checker- 
board" method of saturation was employed 
to insure thorough screening of the area. 
Footprints of fleeing VC were observed on 
several occasions. Two deserted base camps 
revealed sizeable quantities of rice and mis- 
cellaneous equipment. 




s 




YORKTOWN 

23 June -8 July 1966 

Operation YORKTOWN commenced on 
23 June in Xuan Loc Province, approximately 
37 miles east of Bien Hoa. 

Initially, the Brigade met only sporadic 
resistance; however, on 29 June, three pla- 
toons of Company A, 2 503d Infantry became 
engaged with an enemy force 75-100 strong. 
The Viet Cong employed M-79 grenade 
launchers and 50 caliber machineguns on the 
Sky Soldiers to no avail, for after a five hour 
fight the VC were surrounded. The enemy 
broke contact, risking artillery fire. Twenty 
or more Viet Cong were estimated dead or 
wounded. 

The brigade continued routine search and 
destroy missions throughout the area, meeting 
intermittent contact. Meanwhile, E/17th 
Cavalry and D/16th Armor simultaneously 
conducted roadrunner security operations to 
the south and east along Routes 1 and 2 
respectively. 

The brigade concluded Operation YORK- 
TOWN on 8 July 1966, with 25 VC killed 
by body count and another 23 estimated 
killed in action. 








AURORA I 

9-17 July 1966 

The objectives of Operation AURORA I 
conducted in northern Long Khanh Province 
were primarily search and destroy; however, 
the brigade was also concerned with Viet 
Cong tax collection activities in the area. 
Numerous reports indicated that the VC 
were threatening local civilians and forcing 
them to comply with their. taxation demands. 
With the introduction of E/17th Cavalry and 
D/16th Armor, the majority of the collection 
points were eliminated. 

AURORA // 

17 July - 3 August 1966 

Operation AURORA II commenced on 17 
July with brigade elements deploying by air 
and road convoy to the Vo Dat-Phouc Lam 
region, approximately 80 kilometers northeast 
of Bien Hoa. The mission of the operation 
was essentially the same as AURORA I, 
that is, search and destroy, security and 
anti-tax collection operations. 

Operation AURORA II was characterized 
by light enemy contact, however, on 23 July 
1966, 25 enemy sampans were sighted and 
subsequently destroyed by gunships, tactical 
air and artillery fire. 




- "-«-•» 



TOLEDO 



10 August - 7 September 1966 

On 10 August the 173d initiated the first 
phase of Operation TOLEDO, deploying to 
the portion of Phouc Tuy Province known 
as the May Tao Zone. Interrogation of a Viet 
Cong captive revealed that the VC forces had 
begun to depart with the introduction of US 
forces into the operational area. 

The brigade, in an attempt to cut off the 
enemy's retreat, further deployed to the Cam 
My area. The contact which resulted from 
the 28 day search and destroy operation was 
primarily brief. 

Intelligence reports, however, revealed the 
suspected location of the 5th Viet Cong 
Division Headquarters. On 19-20 August, 
armed helicopters employing machinegun 
fire, 40 mm grenades and 2.75" rockets, 
swooped down on the suspected target. Sub- 
sequent intelligence reports indicated nega- 
tive activity in the suspected headquarters 
area, indicating either its destruction or dis- 
placement. 

Helicopter support provided during this 
operation was extremely effective in preparing 
the way for infantry heliborne assaults, as 
well as providing security for the vehicles of 
E ,17th Cavalry and D 16th Armor. 

The success of Operation TOLEDO can 
be measured by the vast quantities of wea- 
pons, ammunition, food, medical equipment 
and installations confiscated or destroyed. 
The Sky Soldiers uncovered over 125,000 
rounds of small arms ammunition, over 50 
tons of rice, 10 base camps, 75 huts and 5 
tunnel systems. The damage done to "Char- 
lie's" resupply effort was certain to disrupt 
activity in the May Tao Secret Zone. 




ATLANTIC CITY 

13-22 September 1966 

On 13 September the 4/503d Infantry de- 
ployed by C-123 Aircraft to the vicinity of 
Dau Tieng, approximately 65 kilometers 
northwest of Saigon. Their mission was to 
reinforce 25th ARVN Division elements 
located near Dau Tieng Airfield, and provide 
security for the US and ARVN units in that 
area. Bravo Battery of the 3/319th Artillery 
was selected to support the operations of the 
4th Battalion at Dau Tieng. 

The introduction of the troopers of the 4th 
Battalion provided the security desired for 
the airstrip, and on 22 September the 
infantry and artillery troops departed Dau 
Tieng by C-123 aircraft— closing in at Bien 
Hoa Airbase. 

Intelligence indicated that the area con- 
tained several VC elements including the 9th 
VC Division Headquarters; however, small 
unit patrolling resulted in no contact with 
referenced VC. Roadblocks, boobytraps, punji 
pits and an observation tower were discovered 
in the areas adjacent to the Dau Tieng 
Airstrip site. 





' 



SIOUX CITY 

26 September - 9 October J966 

On 26 September the 173d Airborne 
Brigade (Separate), minus the 4th Battalion 
previously committed on Operation ATLAN- 
TIC CITY, deployed to the Xom Cat region, 
approximately 23 kilometers northeast of 
Bien Hoa. It was believed that this region of 
dense forest adjacent to the Song Be River 
contained a high level of Viet Cong activity. 
In addition, the Xom Cat area was known to 
be a major infiltration route into the famed 
War Zone "D". 

Operation SIOUX CITY commenced with 
the brigade moving by road convoy northeast 
of Xom Cat, firing artillery in advance pre- 
paration. The movement was executed with- 
out enemy contact. 

Upon establishment of the brigade com- 
mand post, patrols from the 1st and 2d 
Battalions, 503d Infantry were issued to 
conduct search and destroy operations. Viet 
Cong were encountered on several occasions, 
yet contact continued to be brief with the 
enemy breaking almost immediately after 
firing. 

As the brigade scoured the area north of 
Xom Cat, it uncovered numerous food, 
weapons and vehicular maintenance caches. 
The equipment found in the latter ranged 
from brake fluid and diesel fuel to truck 
tires, drive shaft yokes and clutch pressure 
plates. These discoveries indicated a major 
resupply effort was taking place in the area. 
The introduction of the 173d brought these 
efforts to a halt. 

Operation SIOUX CITY terminated on 9 
October with the brigade infantry elements 
being helilifted to Bien Hoa and D/16th 
Armor and E/17th Cavalry closing at base 
camp by road convoy. 




ROBIN 

10-17 October 1966 

From 10 to 17 October the 1 /503d Infantry 
with elements of 3/3 19th Artillery, D/16th 
Armor and E/17th Cavalry participated in a 
joint security operation from Phu My north 
to Bear Cat on Highway 15. The newly-arrived 
3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division was pro- 
vided with a complete escort from Vung Tau, 
their landing point, to Bear Cat, where their 
base camp was to be established. 

Eight hamlets or villages along the route 
were known to have VC committees, there- 
fore making it imperative that utmost security 
be employed to insure the safety of the 3d 
Brigade. In addition, the 274th Main Force 
Regiment was believed to be operating in the 
area. 

The 1st Battalion and units under their 
operational control deployed by road convoy 
to Position HAWK approximately half-way 
between Bear Cat and Phu My on Route 15. 
From this point, patrols were introduced to 
protect the highway and its immediate en- 
virons. Upon the successful movement of the 
3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, the 1st 
Battalion terminated Operation ROBIN. 

The brigade suffered no losses in action 
during the operation; however, a Civic 
Action team was ambushed on 13 October 
resulting in four deaths. The two officers and 
enlisted men had been conducting Psycho- 
logical Operations in the AO and were 
ambushed south of the Brigade CP while 
in transit. 








ATTLEBORO 

7-20 November 1966 

Operation ATTLEBORO was initiated in 

Tay Ninh Province. 

On 7 November, the 173d alerted the 
2/503d Infantry to deploy to the Area of 
Operation ATTLEBORO with E/17th 
Cavalry, D/16th Armor, the 173d Engineer 
Company, 3,319th Artillery and elements of 
Brigade Headquarters Company. The mis- 
sion of the Airborne Task Force was to con- 
duct surveillance of likely crossing sites along 
the Saigon River, destroying any enemy ele- 
ments attempting to move east. 

It was only a few hours after the warning 
order was issued that 2/ 503d Infantry and 
A/3/3 19th Artillery found themselves aboard 
C-130 and C-123 aircraft enroute to Minh 
Thanh in Tay Ninh Province. 

The brigade secured each objective as- 
signed as they screened the area of oper- 
ation. Elements of the 2d Battalion encoun- 
tered several base camps, bivouac and train- 
ing sites. 





WACO 



25 November - 2 December 1966 

When the brigade returns from the field 
after the termination of an operation, it im- 
mediately assumes responsibility for the 
Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR), 
the area surrounding the base camp 
at Bien Hoa. The area east of the TAOR 
was at this time arousing considerable interest 
since intelligence reports (supplied by E/17th 
Cav's LRRP teams) indicated that there were 
VC operating in the area. The enemy's 
ability to conduct small harassing attacks in 
the TAOR led to the deployment of the 1st 
Battalion, 503d Infantry with E/17th Cavalry 
and D/16th Armor (Task Force SUTTON), 
with supporting artillery from C/3/319th 
Artillery, into this area. 

The suspicions of Viet Cong in the area 
were confirmed on 29 November when 
Company A of the 1st Battalion located 
a VC base camp capable of accommodating 
300 persons. On the same day Bravo and 
Charlie Companies also discovered base 
installations. 

WINCHESTER 

8 October - 4 December 1966 

The 4 503d Infantry's mission during 
Operation WINCHESTER was to relieve 
the 2d Battalion of the 26th Marine (Com- 
posite) Division and to occupy and maintain 
control of an assigned sector of the Da Nane 
TAOR. B 

XY/S^ufe™ 6 u 8 day peri0d of P era tion 
wirMUHfcMJbK the paratroopers conducted 
numerous day and night patrols in addition 
to providing security for the daily convoys 
of troops and supplies moving through the 
I Corps Tactical Zone. 




CANARY DUCK 

7 December 1966 - 5 January 1967 

Operation CANARY/DUCK, a two phase 
highway security operation, was executed 
astride Highway 15 from Phu My to Long 
Binh and from Phu My to Bear Cat, with the 
173d providing escort for the 199th Light 
Infantry Brigade and 9th Infantry Division. 
These units were moving north from Vung 
Tau to their respective staging areas. 

On 7 December the paratroopers of the 
173d deployed to the Area of Operation 
CANARY with the 2d Squadron of the 1 1th 
Armored Cavalry Regiment under Brigade 
Operational Control. 

Throughout the operation, brigade ele- 
ments moved up and down the convoy route 
checking out water crossings and possible 
ambush sites and insuring that the enemy 
was not given the opportunity to hamper the 
movement of incoming convoys. 

The second phase of the operation, code- 
named DUCK, was initiated as the final 
elements of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade 
had cleared the AO. 

Brigade elements met with little contact 
during the month of December; however, 
through a series of brief contacts, 30 of the 
enemy fell by body count with an estimated 
25 possible dead. Perhaps the most significant 
factor of the operation was the new offensive 
techniques employed. Troop "E", 17th Caval- 
ry applied the Aero Cavalry concept for the 
first time during this operation — a technique 
that was to prove itself in subsequent search 
and destroy operations. 

On 5 January 1967 Operation CANARY/ 
DUCK terminated successfully with the 9th 
Infantry Division safely closing into their 
staging area at Bear Cat. 




Since January 1967 you have participated 
in the two largest operations of the war — 
CEDAR FALLS in the Iron Triangle and 
JUNCTION CITY in War Zone C. In each, 
the record is clear. You did more than your 
share in terms of Viet Cong killed, weapons 
captured, and significant enemy documents 
and equipment captured. You gained the 
respect of every unit in Vietnam. You cracked 
the Iron Triangle itself. You had the toughest 
missions and accomplished them fully and 
professionally. It is a year of which you can 
be justly proud. 

— Brigadier General John R. Deane Jr. — 




CEDAR FALLS 

5-25 January 1967 



The Iron Triangle was named in early 
1963 by Associated Press writer Peter Arnett, 
a veteran news correspondent, who noticed 
a basic similarity in enemy concentration 
between this area and the Iron Triangle in 
the Korean conflict. The area had been a 
Viet Cong stronghold as far back as 1950 
with its well-fortified tunnel and bunker 
systems. 

On 5 January 1967 the l/503d Infantry 
moved to the Cau Dinh jungle at the southern 
tip of the Iron Triangle to kick off a new 
and dynamic type of search and destroy 
operation. 

The strategy of the main operation, 
CEDAR FALLS, was to seal off the entire 
area, penetrate and saturate the area, and 
destroy all enemy forces and installations. 

With most of the other units occupying 
blocking positions, the 173d's three infantry 
battalions swept and cleared the triangle — 
locating and destroying small troop concen- 
trations and tunnel systems. Many VC 
elected to seek refuge in the vast underground 
complexes, but the 51st Chemical Detach- 
ment, 173d Engineer Company, as well as 
infantry volunteer "tunnel rat" teams, fear- 
lessly explored the VC tunnels, bringing out 
large caches of weapons and supplies and VC 
captives. The combined effort resulted in 
over 1,000 tons of rice and 200 crew-served 
and individual weapons captured. Sixty-five 
enemy were taken prisoner of war; many 
were routed out of the extensive tunnel and 
bunker systems. 

The 173d left 185 enemy dead in the rice 
paddies and jungle of the triangle — "E" 
Troop of the 17th Cavalry alone accounted 
for 73 VC killed in action. 








'. 




BIG SPRING 

30 January - 16 February J967 

On 30 January, "E" Troop, 17th Cavalry 
deployed once again to the infamous War 
Zone "D", spearheading Operation BIG 
SPRING. On 1 February, the 1st, 2d, 
and 4th Battalions of the 503d Infantry 
with the 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division 
and supporting artillery, deployed by heli- 
copter and road convoy into the Area of 
Operation BIG SPRING, west of the Song 
Be River, 14 miles northeast of Bien Hoa. 

Throughout the operation brigade ele- 
ments made numerous contacts with the 
enemy, to include the period of the Tet 
(Lunar New Year) Truce. 

Twenty-six base camps were discovered 
in "D" Zone, and enemy troops were often 
encountered during the search of these camps. 
Brigade elements located and destroyed over 
1,000 bunkers, 78 huts, more than 24 tons 
of rice and 24 weapons. Brigade ground units 
with air support accounted for 79 Viet Cong 
dead. 



■ 









JUNCTION CITY 



22 February 1967- 



On 22 February 1967 the 2 503d Infantry 
Task Force spearheaded Operation JUNC- 
TION CITY by jumping into combat deep 
in War Zone "C" near the Cambodian 
border. It was the first American combat 
jump in Vietnam, and the first since Korea. 

The 1st and 4th Battalions came into 
adjacent landing zones by airmobile assault. 
Once again the 173d was chosen to lead the 
way — this time on the biggest Allied offensive 
to date in Vietnam. 

Operation JUNCTION CITY's objec- 
tive was to locate and destroy the Central 
Office South Vietnam (COSVN), the supreme 
headquarters of the Viet Cong in the Re- 
public of Vietnam. 

The accomplishments of Phase I of Oper- 
ation JUNCTION CITY were significant: 
266 VC killed by body count, 32 possible 
kills, and 4 captured. The complete de- 
struction of the COSVN Public Information 
Office for Psychological Propaganda and a 
COSVN Signal site dealt a heavy blow to 
the enemy propaganda effort. 






FIRST COMBAT JUMP 
IN 15 YEARS 

The jumpmaster's voice rose above the roar of the C-130 air- 
craft— STAND IN THE DOOR. Brigadier General John R. 
Deane Jr., the 173d Airborne Brigade Commander, shuffled into 
the right door as Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Sigholtz, the 2nd 
Battalion, 503d Infantry Commander, took his position in the left 
door. 

Paratroopers in the lead plane leaned forward, ready for the 
final jump command. The green light flashed on — GO. The com- 
manders jumped, leading their men on the first American para- 
chute assault in Vietnam. 

A 780 man task force hit the silk along the northern edge of 
War Zone C near the Cambodian border. Below lay drop zone 
"Charlie," 1000 by 6000 ft. of dried paddy land, deep in enemy- 
controlled territory. 

The paratroopers received only light sniper fire as they des- 
cended 1000 ft. to the huge clearing. Within 10 minutes, the 173d 
"We Try Harder" battalion had been dropped into the heart of 
the Viet Cong jungle stronghold. The element of surprise had 
been fully realized. 

Speed now became paramount. Each man hit the ground, 
grabbed his weapon and combat gear, and headed for his assembly 
area. As the paratroopers moved out to the woodline they met 
little enemy resistance. "A" company made contact immediately 
and silenced the Viet Cong probe. 

The C-130's raced into the drop zone again, this time unload- 
ing mortars, howitzers, and ammunition. Mortar and artillery crews 
raced to their heavy weapons and readied them for firing. 

Later, the versatile Air Force Hercules returned at low level, 
slingshotting vital supplies to the troops below. It was the first time 
in history the low altitude Cargo Delivery System had been used in 
combat. 

Within an hour an infantry battalion, with artillery, control and 
support teams, was ready for full scale combat. The jump was a 
success. 

The first part of their mission was complete: with lightning 
speed the airborne task force had jumped into combat, blocking the 
VC from the refuge of the Cambodian border. They were now to 
patrol the area in search of hard-core enemy forces. The job had 
just begun. 



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The 173d 
Leaves its Mark 

The men of the 173d Airborne Brigade 
(Separate) are proud to have spearheaded 
the U. S. Army combat effort in Vietnam. 
Since its arrival on 5 May 1965, the brigade 
has established an outstanding combat rec- 
ord. The Sky Soliders have left their mark 
throughout the land. 

War Zone "D", a long-time Viet Cong 
sanctuary, has become a second home to 
the brigade. Just north of the 173d base camp 
at Bien Hoa, "D" Zone has been hit often 
and hard by the paratroopers. 

War Zone "C" has also felt the might of 
the 173d. On 22 February 1967 the Sky 
Soldiers made the first American combat 
jump of the war to kick off Operation JUNC- 
TION CITY. Deep in "C" Zone, the initial 
assault met only light resistance — indicative 
of the respect the paratroopers have won 
from the enemy. 

The 173d veterans cracked the infamous 
Iron Triangle. Leading the attack in Opera- 
tion CEDAR FALLS, the Sky Soldiers 
swept and cleared the once impenetrable 
enemy stronghold, destroying many base 
camps and tunnel systems. 

Combat successes such as these keep the 
Viet Cong on the run. If "Charlie" chooses 
to stand and fight, he must face the firepower 
and mobility of the 173d. The enemy has 
learned to fear the man who wears a red 
bayonet borne by a white wing on his 
shoulder. 




AIRMOBILE 
ASSAULT 



The helicopter is the key to mobility in 
Vietnam. In one massive, well-coordinated 
troop lift, an entire infantry battalion can be 
transported into an objective area in less 
than an hour. 

The UH-1D troop-carriers, known as 
"Hueys," roar into the pick-up zone (PZ 
in a series of waves. Heavily-laden para- 
troopers scramble onto the "slickships" and 
the lift is underway in a matter of seconds. 

The ride ends abruptly as the choppers 
dive for the landing zone (LZ). As the Hueys 
touch down, the paratroopers leap from the 
choppers and head for cover. If the LZ is 
"hot" the men assault the woodline. The in- 
fantrymen move out to their objective and 
the helicopters return to the PZ for another 
lift. 




The Vietnam War can be summarized in 
two words: Search and Destroy. The enemy 
must be tracked down and fixed before he 
can be taken under fire and finished. This is 
the nature of counter-guerrilla warfare in 
which the enemy tries to evade and hide. 

It takes all-out concentration — from the 
commanding general to the individual rifle- 
man — to find the elusive enemy. Tactical 
developments such as the use of scout dogs 
and sighting devices are tailored towards 
pinpointing the Viet Cong. Cavalry and 
reconnaissance-type operations are used ex- 
tensively due to the cover afforded by the 
dense jungle terrain. 

Once the enemy has been located, contact 
must be maintained in order to destroy him 
and his materiel. The ground troops put 
the pressure on and artillery and air power 
are used to keep the VC pinned down. 

To the infantryman falls the mission of 
of closing with and destroying the enemy. 
He must force the attack, assaulting the VC 
and routing him from his positions. Finally, 
the days and days of pounding the jungle have 
paid off in contact with the enemy. 

But many times the enemy chooses not to 
stand and fight — he picks up what he can 
find and fades into the all-encompassing 
jungle. He leaves behind what he cannot carry 
on his back. 

Bunkers, tunnel systems and rice caches 
serve as the VC life line. When he deserts, 
rather than defends these base camps against 
the oncoming praatroopers, he loses his 
operations and supply center. The 173d 
leaves nothing behind for the retreating 
enemy to find if he chooses to return. 



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The "tunnel rat" is a rare breed. Armed 
with only a pistol, flashlight and gasmask, he 
explores Viet Cong tunnel complexes. Snakes, 
scorpions, booby traps and "Charlie" him- 
self lurk around every corner. And yet 
infantrymen volunteer to go down into the 
tunnels before the 173d Engineer Company 
tunnel rat teams arrive. 

During Operation CEDAR FALLS in 
the Iron Triangle, 173d troopers discovered, 
searched, and destroyed dozens of intricate 
tunnel complexes. One tunnel ran for over 
a mile on at least four different levels. The 
paratroopers' effort resulted in the capture 
of huge amounts of enemy supplies and a 
number of prisoners of war taken from the 
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COMBAT 




FIREFIGHT 



This is the story of a firefight. It is the 
story of the infantry — the individual soldier 
and the team. 

Each man is on his own. He must react 
quickly and function effectively. There is no 
time for hesitation, no room for mistakes. 
He must know what to do and how to do 
it — and most important, he must face the 
test of combat. 

Yet the trooper must be able to work with 
and depend on his fellow soldier. He must 
fight as part of an interdependent team. 

For days, the infantryman searches the 
jungle in pursuit of a tough and elusive 
enemy. Once contact is made, it is his job 
to close with and destroy the enemy. It is 
a demanding task. 

This firefight involved Bravo Company, 

4th Battalion during Operation JUNCTION 

CITY. But it could have been any of the 

brigade's line companies in any operation. 

It is the story of the Sky Soldier under fire. 



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DUST OFF 

No one knows how many lives Dust Off 
(Medical Evacuation Helicopter) has saved. 
The soldier knows, however, that if he is 
wounded a Dust Off chopper will be there 
within a matter of minutes to carry him to 
safety. 

The dustoff crew receives the call and is 
on the way immediately: Trained combat 
medics give first aid, often risking their 
lives to reach the wounded. "Doc," as the 
medic is called by his fellow soldiers, is 
always there when the going gets tough. He 
is the initial life-saver. 

If there is a landing zone nearby the Dust 
Off ship comes in, sits down for a second and 
carries the wounded man out of the battle 
area. When there is no place to touch down, 
the chopper hovers above the trees and lifts 
the wounded out by a special harness. 





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CHAPLAINS 



The chaplains of the 173d Airborne Brigade 
are omnipresent; they have conducted ser- 
vices in thick jungle and open rice paddies. 

Whenever possible the chaplains accompany 
the infantry in the field. They bring needed 
religious guidance to the men who face death 
daily. They have served under fire, aiding the 
wounded both physically and spiritually. 
Somehow the chaplains find the time for 
a moment of silence and prayer in a war 
that can be very real — anywhere, anytime. 





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FIRE 
SUPPORT 



Extensive ground and air fire support is 
available to the maneuver elements of the 
brigade on a close and continuous basis. The 
Fire Support Coordination Center (FSCC) 
controls and directs the delivery of support- 
ing fire. With close coordination in the 
Tactical Operations Center (TOC), it is pos- 
sible for an infantry battalion in contact with 
the enemy to receive both ground and aerial 
fire support in the same area at the same time. 
Ground fire support ranges from the hand- 
held 60mm mortar to the 105mm -howitzers 
of the 3/3 19th Artillery and higher. The 
infantry company commander has his own 
"hip-pocket" artillery in the 81mm mortar, 
while the battalion commander relies on the 
heavier 4.2" (four-deuce) mortar. 

3 /319th artillerymen fire the accurate 
105mm howitzer in direct support of the 
brigade infantry battalions. An artillery 
forward observer moves with each infantry 
company and requests fires through the Fire 
Direction Center (FDC) located at the Fire 
Support Base (FSB). 

Aerial fire support ranges from Army heli- 
copters to Air Force tactical bombers and 
higher. Armed UH-1B helicopters, known 
as gunships, provide extremely close and 
devastating firepower. The "gunnys" fire 
a 40mm grenade launcher, M-60 machine 
guns and 2.75" rockets. 

Tactical air power is coordinated by a For- 
ward Air Controller (FAC) who flys an 01 -E 
Bird Dog observation plane. Fighter-bom- 
bers, such as the F-100 Supersabre, deliver 
everything from cannon fire to 1000 pound 
bombs on both a pre-planned and immediate 
basis. The ultimate in air power is the B-52 
Stratofortress. 






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COMBAT 
SUPPORT 



The 173d Support Battalion keeps the 
supplies coming to the brigade's maneuver 
elements. Everything from ammunition, gas 
and spare parts to "C"-rations, fresh food 
and mail is delivered to the troops on a daily 
basis. 

The Brigade Supply Operations Center 
(BSOC) in the rear area at Bien Hoa breaks 
down and loads the supplies onto helicopters, 
fixed-wing aircraft or trucks. The BSOC in 
the forward area receives the items and distri- 
butes them to subordinate units in the field. 
The forward resupply area controls the supply 
and maintenance in support of the combat 
elements. 

Versatile UH- ID helicopters transport sup- 
plies to the line units at least twice daily 
during an operation. Whenever possible the 
Hueys deliver a hot breakfast and evening 
meal to the infantry companies. The para- 
troopers rely on "C"-rations and GI ingenuity 
for the noon meal. 

The CH-47 Chinook helicopter is the real 
workhorse of the supply system. These huge 
aircraft can carry howitzers and sling-loaded 
ammunition in large quantities, as well as 
all kinds of other supplies. 

During a large operation C-130 Hercules 
and other fixed-wing aircraft can be seen 
taking off from Bien Hoa Airbase at fifteen 
second intervals loaded with supplies. If an 
airstrip is available Air Force planes can 
carry a tremendous amount of goods to the 
brigade forward base camp in a very short 
time. 

The men of "C" Company (Supply and 
Transportation) have the job of delivering 
items by road convoy. It is a dangerous but 
vital aspect of the vast supply system 
employed by the 173d. 











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CIVIC ACTION: 
THE OTHER WAR 




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Combat and Civic Action represent the 
dual nature of the war in Vietnam. In many 
cases they are closely related: rice captured 
from the Viet Cong is distributed to refugees ; 
ammunition boxes are given to needy 
Vietnamese for building. Victory in combat 
is only half the battle — the loyalty of the 
Vietnamese people to their government must 
be cultivated and maintained. With this goal 
in mind, the 173d has developed an extensive 
Civic Action program designed to help the 
Vietnamese to help themselves. 

The Brigade S5 (Civic Action) section is 
responsible for all civil affairs activities. At 
base camp, rear elements conduct long range 
programs including medical aid, building 
and teaching. In the forward (operational) 
areas, Civic Action teams run programs of 
short duration and high impact, consisting 
primarily of medical aid and distribution of 
foodstuffs. 

Medical and Dental Civic Action Programs 
(MEDCAP and DENTCAP) constitute 
the basis of a great deal of the brigade's 
assistance programs. Doctors, dentists and 
medics treat patients and distribute soap and 
medical supplies to the needy villages. Food 
and clothing are also given out in the effort 
to improve health and sanitation standards. 

Building and teaching are important as- 
pects of the 173d Civic Action program. 
Schools, classrooms and dispensaries, as well 
as roads and bridges, are constructed — often 
as a joint American-Vietnamese project. 
Troopers teach English to Vietnamese adults 
and children, thus promoting the education 
and understanding necessary to winning the 
"other war" in Vietnam. 




PSYCHOLOGICAL 
OPERATIONS 

The purpose of psychological operations 
is two-fold : to inform the Vietnamese people 
and to destroy Viet Cong morale. 

Jeeps mounted with loudspeakers often 
accompany MEDCAP teams into villages 
where they broadcast a message of health 
and peace. The teams use music and movies 
to both entertain and educate the war-weary 
villagers. They also distribute magazines and 
posters explaining the accomplishments and 
goals of the government. 

Airborne leaflet missions are flown over 
operational areas in an effort to convince the 
enemy that there is no hope for victory. 
Isolated guerrillas thus learn of the far- 
reaching power of the Allied forces. 

The results of psychological operations are 
often impressive. During Operation CEDAR 
FALLS, 72 Viet Cong rallied to the govern- 
ment cause due to effective use of speaker 
and leaflet missions. Two brothers who gave 
themselves up to 173d troopers under the 
Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) amnesty program 
were responsible for the return of many VC 
to the government side. 

The two Hoi Chanh (returnees) pointed 
out enemy hiding places and staging areas. 
Their broadcast messages encouraged former 
comrades to give up the fight. The message 
was also reproduced on a leaflet and dis- 
tributed by air to the enemy's jungle hideouts. 

In one day, over thirty VC received the 
word and decided to cease their aggression 
and join the Allied effort. 




THE PEOPLE 




THE LAND 





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WELCOME HOME 

SKY SOLDIER 




The 173d Sky Soldier spends his year in 
Vietnam in the field. But every now and then, 
between combat operations, the trooper 
returns to base camp at Bien Hoa for a short 
break. 

The paratrooper returns to the rear area 
by helicopter or convoy for a few days of 
"in-country" rest and relaxation. He may be 
greeted by a Red Cross girl with a cup of 
coffee, a kind word and a large sign which 
reads "WELCOME HOME SKY SOL- 
DIER." 

If he's lucky, there may be a USO show. 
The singing and dancing of shapely females 
always meets with a warm response. The men 
still talk about Playmate Jo Collins' visit to 
the brigade in January 1966. 

It's always good to be back after a month 
or more in the jungle. The flares and guard 
towers are a constant reminder of the job 
that has to be done and the trooper knows 
that tomorrow or the next day he'll get the 
word to move out. 

The most important base camp activity is 
training. All new arrivals attend an intensive 
one-week course at the Jungle School. Here, 
the Sky Soldier learns Viet Cong actions and 
Brigade tactics gained from experience. He is 
then ready to take to the field — confident in 
his ability to defeat the enemy. 



WLLCOME HOME !i 





JUNGLE SCHOOL 




Gl JO COLLINS 





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THE ENEMY 




The Viet Cong is a tough, elusive and 
unpredictable enemy. One day he fights 
fanatically — the next he breaks and runs. 

VC tactics are basically those of the guer- 
rilla: when the enemy attacks, retreat; when 
the enemy withdraws, attack; when the enemy 
is static, harass. He is reluctant to stand and 
fight with a heavily-armed American unit 
such as the 173d. 

Counter-ambush techniques developed by 
the Allied forces have reduced the effective- 
ness of the favorite VC tactic — the ambush — 
to a minimum. The enemy is thus forced to 
rely on terrorist activities and human wave 
attacks on isolated outposts for his few 
"victories." 

As more and more former VC sanctuaries 
such as the Iron Triangle are overrun, 
"Charlie" loses his bases of operation. As a 
result, he is always on the move, looking for 
supplies and hiding from the large-scale 
Allied operations. But he cannot evade, 
forever, and the pressure is taking a heavy 
toll. 








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The Central Office for South Vietnam 
(COSVN) is the supreme headquarters of the 
Hanoi-directed "National Liberation Front" 
in South Vietnam. COSVN thus controls and 
coordinates all Viet Cong activity in the 
Republic of Vietnam. 

During Operation JUNCTION CITY 
paratroopers of the 4th Battalion, 503d 
Infantry, located and overran the COSVN 
Public Information Office for Psychological 
Propaganda. In one day, the 173d dealt a 
heavy blow to the enemy propaganda machine 
and uncovered a great deal of valuable in- 
formation. 

The two pictures at the start of "THE 
ENEMY" and on these two pages, were 
captured from the COSVN Public Informa- 
tion Office. They show a strong emphasis on 
training, rallies and destruction: key aspects 
of the Viet Cong propaganda effort. 





THE SKY SOLDIER 




THE PRIDE 

OF THE PARATROOPER 

The Sky Soldier is the man behind the 
173d's great combat record. He is the key to 
victory in the many small-scale encounters 
that make up the war in Vietnam. 

Many troopers come to Vietnam straight 
from their fifth and qualifying jump at 
Airborne School. They have trained hard 
and have proven themselves as paratroopers — 
they are eager to prove themselves in combat 
against the Viet Cong. 

The trooper learns fast in the jungle and 
rice paddies of Vietnam: he pulls point on 
a day patrol and he stands outpost guard on 
a night ambush. He becomes hardened to 
the rain and mud and endures the broiling 
sun. 

In combat, the Sky Soldier reacts with 
determination. He faces the enemy in close 
combat and learns to respect him. But as 
a paratrooper he knows no fear and will not 
quit until he has defeated that enemy. His 
fighting spirit allows only victory— and he is 
willing to pay the price. 

Above all, it is the pride of the paratrooper 
that makes him a better soldier and a better 
fighter. The same determination that makes 
him jump from an airplane also makes him 
drive on in a fierce firefight. The 173d trooper 
wears the red bayonet borne on a white wing 
proudly— he has earned the name "Sky 
Soldier." J 








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After six months on line with the 1st 
Battalion, Specialist 4 Douglas C. Holland 
came to the Brigade Information Office. As a 
photo-journalist, his job was to cover the 
men of the brigade in action. He liked his 
work — it gave him a chance to photograph 
and write of the men with whom he had 
fought as an infantryman. 

On Sunday, April 9, 1967, Holland was 
killed in action on a heliborne assault. He 
took pictures until the firefight became 
intense and then began helping the wounded. 
His last picture is shown below. 

Doug Holland died a hero — under fire — 
aiding a fellow paratrooper. 




THE CONGRESSIONAL 
MEDAL OF HONOR 

Since the 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) 
arrived in Vietnam in May 1965 there have 
been many acts of heroism. Most are accom- 
plished in the normal line of duty. But a 
handful of Sky Soldiers have won the recogni- 
tion of their fellow soldiers, the United States 
Army and their country. 
^ Three 173d paratroopers have won the 
Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry 
in action above and beyond the call of duty. 

On 20 September 1965, Sergeant Larry 
Pierce saved the lives of three members of 
his squad by diving upon a claymore mine. 
In February 1966, Sergeant Pierce was 
posthumously awarded the Congressional 
Medal of Honor for his action. 

On 22 October 1965, Private First Class 
Milton Olive threw himself onto a grenade, 
saving the lives of four of his fellow soldiers. 
PFC Olive was posthumously awarded the 
Congressional Medal of Honor in April 1966. 

President Johnson presented the Con- 
gressional Medal of Honor to Specialist 6 
Larry Joel in December 1966 for saving the 
lives of a dozen wounded paratroopers. 
Specialist Joel, although seriously wounded 
twice and unable to walk, crawled through a 
day-long battle, risking his life to save others. 

The sacrifices made by these three men 
typify the determination and fighting' spirit 
of the Sky Soldier. Their accomplishments 
have set a standard for those who carry on 
the fight. 




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